Written by Lorena Marcias of #teamintheweeds
There is no right or wrong way to practice self-care. Tending to one’s well-being looks different for everyone, especially during such trying times. For some,these circumstances are offering opportunities and ample time to experiment with and learn how to best serve and show up for yourself. When we show up for ourselves, it allows us to do the same for others with more empathy, a move greatly needed at this time.
Self care begins first with recognizing where we are in the moment – mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. This may look like imagining how we want to feel and contrasting that with what we are actually feeling. Try breathwork routines to ease the mind and calm the body. If your current state and desired state look different, ask yourself, “What methods can I take to arrive closer to that desired space of being? Whether it be paying gratitude even for the smallest of things, becoming more in tune with your empathy, or simply reminding yourself that these circumstances are temporary, aligning your perceived self with your idealized self will differ for everyone
This requires honesty with your feelings. Embracing the better moods is just as important as nurturing the hard ones. Giving yourself grace and allowing all emotions to surface is helpful in creating an emotionally healthy space.
Engaging in this practice and incorporating simple breathwork routines can help greatly to calm the body and settle the mind. It is imperative to preserve your energy for the things you can control, such as your personal self care. You have been through tough times before – you can get through this one, too.
Being in Communion With Nature
Staying grounded during these times of uncertainty may seem like quite a stretch. However, this can be achieved by cultivating a sense of connection to nature, plants, herbs, and the Earth. Enriching this connection can help us to “also enhance our sense of wonder, our creativity, and our ability to find beauty in the mundane” (Gantous 2020). Through our mission statement, our products, and our own personal histories with plants, we at In The Weeds honor plants as essential necessities to our self care. Through many methods, we have witnessed with much humility how our communion with herbs has led to and enriched sustainable systems of well-being and self care. The integration of herbs into our daily lives has inspired our work to bring these healing plants to others, as well as encourage people to build relationships with herbs and the world of plants surrounding us.
Plants are here to support us in many ways, whether it be needing a heart warming herb for prolonged states of stress or an exfoliating facial with all natural herbal ingredients. Plants help us to rebuild ourselves as they present opportunities to slow down, invest in wellness practices, and to nurture resiliency. It is important to note though, that the way plants care for us is just as important as the way we care for plants. As Tari Gunstone writes, “We exchange oxygen and carbon and depend upon each other for survival – plants create food for us through photosynthesis while we bring them into our gardens and agricultural spaces, protecting them from pests and providing nutrients” (The Evergreen Herbal). Our relationships with plants are reciprocal in this way.
Herbs shine best when we use them for support, rather than as a replacement to lifestyle practices that cultivate wellness. When paired with additional wellness practices, herbs can help a great deal with nourishing our nervous systems, enforcing a healthy respiratory system, caring for our immune and antiviral support, and even warming and caring for our hearts. You can incorporate herbs into your daily life in a multitude of ways, such as drinking tea and using tinctures, essential oils, and other herbal based products.
Immersing yourself in nature is a great way to begin communion with plants as well. I will offer two practical ways of cultivating a relationship with nature for your health and care in the following:
In Japan, there is such a practice called shinrin-yoku, or, forest bathing. This practice, otherwise known as nature therapy, calls for us to take in nature with our senses. Shinrin-yoku does not entail running, biking, or other forms of exercise in nature. Instead, this practice entails just simply being, existing, and sensing. This sort of communion with plants invites one to intentionally enrich their awareness of oneself with the surrounding plants, taking notice of what the plants have to teach us. We can find solace in nature from stress, as “[plants] expect nothing of us and remind us that we are, above all else, alive” (2018). Additionally, movement is also an excellent release of stress.
Practicing nature therapy does not require a forest, though. You can use all or one of your senses to feel the comforts of plants. Observe the plants in your backyard, take note of the weeds on your porch (as weeds are useful, too), take an intentional drive with the windows rolled down, track the moon – take in the sights, sounds, and smells. Being self aware in nature is the first step.
Gardening is a common practice in building a relationship with plants and also yourself. Contrary to belief, it is more than digging, watering, or pruning. As mentioned before, this relationship is reciprocal. Arin Murphy-Hiscock states,
“There is a very real give-and-take of energy involved in tending a garden. The time and care you put into maintaining the garden is directly reflected in the garden’s health and what you harvest. Like a person, a garden is also in a constant state of change. Just as you solve one problem in your life and another pops up, what you do to tend your garden one week may be different from what you do the next week. The sun may beat down without mercy for weeks, drying your precious plants to a crisp, only to be followed by a monsoon-like week of pouring rain that nearly drowns what you’ve managed to salvage. Working with a garden is a continuous lesson in patience, acceptance, and recognition that nature functions as an independent system that operates no matter what we humans do” (2017).
Gardening reminds us that we are a part of something larger, a reminder necessary in the circumstances we find ourselves in at the time of this writing. In this way, gardening is also a practice of mindfulness and self awareness in itself. As people grow anxious with never ending fear-inducing news and articles, it is important that we prune away behaviors and thoughts that do not serve us. Llike a garden, we must sit with these thoughts or leaves, taking notice of the differing textures, colors, as well as knowing what to prune and when. Gardening invites us to work with plants as a way of getting to know ourselves and our surroundings, free of judgement but full of care and thoughtful intentions.
Engaging in this practice can start small. This can look like growing a plant within your home. The same intentions, care, and support from both sides will still be present. We can still eagerly anticipate the growth that awaits from both the plant and within ourselves.
It may be easy to feel discouraged by the circumstances we find ourselves in, however, we are also being offered an opportunity to take care of ourselves, our communities, and our homes. While this shift is taking place, we must give ourselves grace and allow our emotions to take shape in the way they need to. This will help to create an emotionally healthy space for future growth. We can implement certain practices and take actions along the way to enrich our self care, such as engaging in nature therapy, gardening, using herbal based products, and reading this blog and future entries. When we look at the many lines of a leaf, vines embracing one another, roots dancing for nutrients, we see growth is not limited to just us – we are a part of something bigger. When we care for ourselves and our well being, sprouts begin to bloom through the cracks offering opportunities for much bigger growth.
Gantus, A. (2020). 3 meditations for connecting with nature from within your own home. Mind Body Green.
Murphy-Hiscock, A. (2017). The green witch: Your complete guide to the natural magic of herbs, flowers, essential oils, and more. Avon, MA: Simon and Schuster, Inc.
Various Authors. (2018). The evergreen herbal: A resource guide for budding herbalists.
Olympia, WA: The Evergreen State College Press